This article was first published in the December 1st edition of Main Street Week and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by Main Street Week News to have a look at a great community newspaper or sign up and have Main Street Week delivered right to your inbox.
The Montreal Alouettes played two pre-season games, eighteen regular season games, and the Eastern Division Final to earn the right to play in the 98th Grey Cup against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium. After so many games, it is hard to believe that going into the final 15 minutes of their season, they were locked at 11-11 with the Roughriders; one quarter of football would decide whether they ended their year as champions once again. The last time the Grey Cup was tied going into the final quarter was 1972 - a 10-10 deadlock between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Roughriders.
Heading into the season, the Alouettes made it very clear that they did not see another trip to the Grey Cup as an opportunity to win back-to-back championships. It was a new year and a new team; last year’s victory belonged to last year’s team. However, with three consecutive trips to the league championship and victories in the last two, it may be time to start using the word “dynasty” when describing the Alouettes organization.
Once again, it was the arm of veteran quarterback Anthony Calvillo that led the Alouettes to a 21-18 win over Saskatchewan. He completed 29 of his 42 pass attempts for 336 passing yards. The Grey Cup’s Most Valuable Player was Montreal wide receiver Jamal Richardson - catching eight of Calvillo’s passes for 108 yards. Running back Avon Cobourne scored both of Montreal’s touchdowns with runs of three yards and two yards, he would finish the game with 67 rushing yards on 15 carries.
After two tremendous offensive battles in their regular season match-ups, a 54-51 Saskatchewan victory on July 1, and a 30-26 Montreal win in the rematch on August 6, the defence stole the show for much of the game in the Grey Cup. The Saskatchewan defenders reached Calvillo on three occasions for the sack and limited his options for much of the game. The same can be said of Montreal’s defence; while they only sacked Darian Durant once, they limited him to 215 passing yards and the normally dangerous rushing QB was limited to just eight yards on the ground.
The story that emerged after the game is the one that football fans in every CFL city will remember when looking back at the 98th Grey Cup for years to come. Not only had Anthony Calvillo battled the elements and the opposition to become the fifth QB in CFL history to lead his team to back-to-back championships, he did so with a tremendous weight on his mind. Calvillo revealed that he has known since his sternum injury at mid-season that he would require surgery once the season concluded. A lesion on his thyroid had been discovered, the biopsy was inconclusive and part of his thyroid must be removed before it is known whether the lesion is malignant or benign.
Having already helped his wife battle cancer during the 2007 season, the strain and the weight of such news would break most people - but not Calvillo. Instead, he went to work, capping off one of his best years statistically with the third Grey Cup title of his career. If the Montreal Alouettes have indeed become a football dynasty, there is no doubt that Calvillo is the Emperor.